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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Aug 19;105(33):11933-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0804621105. Epub 2008 Aug 11.

Bacterial species exhibit diversity in their mechanisms and capacity for protein disulfide bond formation.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School, 200 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Protein disulfide bond formation contributes to the folding and activity of many exported proteins in bacteria. However, information about disulfide bond formation is limited to only a few bacterial species. We used a multifaceted bioinformatic approach to assess the capacity for disulfide bond formation across this biologically diverse group of organisms. We combined data from a cysteine counting method, in which a significant bias for even numbers of cysteine in proteins is taken as an indicator of disulfide bond formation, with data on the presence of homologs of known disulfide bond formation enzymes. These combined data enabled us to make predictions about disulfide bond formation in the cell envelope across bacterial species. Our bioinformatic and experimental results suggest that many bacteria may not generally oxidatively fold proteins, and implicate the bacterial homolog of the enzyme vitamin K epoxide reductase, a protein required for blood clotting in humans, as part of a disulfide bond formation pathway present in several major bacterial phyla.

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